Noel Whelan has voiced serious concerns about Fabian Delph’s ability to stay fit moving forward after a “woeful start” to his time at Everton.

The former Leeds United striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says that the 30-year-old has been a big miss for Marco Silva in the middle of the park at times this season.

The former Manchester City man has sat out five of the Toffees’ 12 Premier League games as a result of injury, including the 2-1 win over Southampton before the international break.

With Andre Gomes now out of action with a long-term injury layoff, Whelan says that Delph’s own problems are a serious cause for concern and that Silva needs someone to step up in his absence should he continue to struggle for fitness.

Whelan told Football Insider: “It’s been a woeful start to his Everton career, we saw him at Manchester City and he still picked up niggles there.

“Sometimes that’s what happens when you come into that certain stage of your career, you pick up niggles as you get older and you’ve played a lot of football.

“They bought him as a very important holding midfield player, now you’ve got the injury to Gomes, he was that player who was going to do that sitting role, start attacks off from that defensive area, be that general that’s going to get around and put tackles in.

“They’re really missing two important players there in Gomes and Delph. You need somebody to do that side of the game.”

Delph has played 10 times for Everton since his move across the north-west but his seven Premier League outings have resulted in five defeats, one draw and one win for the Toffees.

The 20-cap England international has suffered with a number of injury problems throughout his career, most notably a ruptured cruciate ligament which kept him out between April and December 2010.

In other Everton news, Football Insider can reveal who Bill Kenwright is backing if Marco Silva is sacked from his job as manager.